First, ABC News briefly interviewed Miss Tarter for a nationally broadcast news segment and I went back and researched Miss Tarter and her writings on The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website. It was then I realized her understanding of "feminism" was something way different than the typical Southern Baptist understanding of it. Second, my wife, who read my blogpost, was so intrigued that she ended up researching Miss Tarter's writings for herself - and told me that she was personally offended by Tarter's Confessions of a Recovering Feminist. Finally, I had the privilege this week of reading the personal memoirs of Elizabeth Keckly, an African-American seamstress who worked for Mary Todd Lincoln in the Lincoln White House, and came to the realization that the Southern Baptist Convention needs more women with the spirit of Miss Keckly and not Miss Tarter.
Drs. Mohler and Moore praise Miss Tarter's conclusions in her post, but my wife perceptively pointed out to me a couple of very serious doctrinal problems in Miss Tarter's writings. My wife of twenty-five years (Rachelle) is a conservative, evangelical Christian who has helped me raise four wonderful kids, graduated from Nursing School at forty three years of age with a 4.0 grade average, and is currently enrolled at the University of Oklahoma completing her Masters as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. She is also the sweetest woman you will ever meet, one who is rarely offended, so when she told me Tarter's article offended her, I took notice. Rachelle pointed out to me two statements in Tarter's Confessions of a Recovering Feminist that should send shivers up the spines of all Southern Baptists.
(1). "Feminism is in the core of our hearts apart from the saving work of the shed blood of Christ, and not simply because we are militant against male authority, but primarily because we are opposed to the greatest authority of all—our Creator." Miss Courtney Tarter
Feminism, according to SBC seminary trained Cortney Tarter, is opposition to male authority and God's authority.
As Southern Baptists, we keep hearing the pertinent issue in our Convention is "pastoral" authority. Paige Patterson, Al Mohler, Russell Moore, and others keep hammering away at the "liberals" who are advocating female "pastoral" authority. I keep asking questions like "What does pastoral authority have to do with female Southern Baptist Hebrew professors?" "What does pastoral authority have to do with female Vice-Presidents of the IMB?" "What does pastoral authority have to do with missionaries at the Strategy Associate level?" "What does pastoral authority have to do with Southern Baptists refusing to endorse Southern Baptist female military chaplains?" I believe Miss Courtney Tarter has provided the answer to my questions, an answer that I have suspected all along, but Moore, Patterson, Mohler and other SBC leaders are careful not to state as bluntly as Miss Tarter.
The issue is male authority in the Southern Baptist Convention, or more precisely, females are to always be subordinate to males; at all places, at all times, and under all circumstances. The issue in the SBC is not about "women pastors" and don't let anybody continue to blow that smoke in your face - it is about certain SBC leaders who believe that women should submit to men - period. Again, the issue in our Convention is the attempt to demand everyone believe in male authority over women.
A handful of powerful SBC leaders in our Convention are pushing a very bizzare scenario of removing women from leadership positions, all the while attempting to mislead us regarding the reasons for their actions. These SBC leaders, including seminary Presidents, their friends who serve as SBC agency trustees, and other strategically placed SBC leaders believe that there should never be a Southern Baptist woman with with any authority over a man. Again, they say they are seeking to protect "pastoral" authority, but it is not about "pastoral authority." Their belief is in male authority.
(2). "Instead of seeing our gender differences as mere cultural constructions we must first admit that there was something far greater going on in the Garden than we now realize, and when Creation fell, it was distorted. In creating man and woman differently, God was pointing to the beauty of the Trinitarian relationship." Miss Courtney Tarter
Pointing to the Trinity in order to establish the "eternal subordination" of the female to the male is a new and growing phenomenon. Yet this heretical teaching is taking hold among some in our Southern Baptist Convention, particularly at our seminaries, as a theological basis to keep women eternally subordinate to men. Southern Baptists best wake up to this growing tendency to use a false understanding of the Trinity to justify the eternal subordination of women to men before the pastors of our Southern Baptist churches begin to accept this doctrine as "the norm." Not only is it not normal, it borders on bizarre. Just because we admire Mohler, just because there is fear that respected seminary administrators like Dr. Moore and Dr. Patterson may torpedo your chances to get a SBC church, you shouldn't be afraid to push back. Loyalty is a major value right now in the Southern Baptist Convention, but following fidelity to the fringe of foolishness will destroy our Convention.
The Gripping, Heartwrenching Story of Elizabeth Keckley
I titled this post, My Prayer for Miss Courtney Tarter: "That One Day, By God's Grace, You May Recover from Your Recovery. What Miss Tarter needs recovery from is her warped concept that a woman is to always be submissive to male authority. That bizarre view may actually cause a Southern Baptist to teach that a wife who is being beaten by her husband should submit to the beatings (more about the tape recording I heard where a Southern Baptist Seminary President actually advocated this on a later post). Our Southern Baptist women need to understand that nowhere in Scripture does God order a woman to be subordinate to a man because of gender. Let me repeat: There is not one scrap of evidence - not one jot or tittle of the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures - that should ever cause a woman to feel she is subordinate to a man because of her gender. To militate against a woman's subordination to a man is not feminism. It is respecting the equality of the man and the woman.
For my part, I wish Miss Tarter was more like Elizabeth Keckley. Elizabeth, an African-American seamstress for the Lincoln White House, was born into slavery in 1830. Her story is an incredible journey from slavery to the White House. Without comment, I will simply encourage you to read Keckley's own words as she describes her spirit while being beaten by a very poor North Carolina Presybyterian minister in 1850. At the time of this beating, Miss Keckly was the same age as Miss Tarter. She had been given to the minister as a slave gift, the minister and his wife being unable themselves to afford any slaves. Miss Keckley was unsure as to the reason for the beating described below, but believes it was because she fell asleep while rocking the Presbyterian minister's small child.
"My master was a good-hearted man, but was influenced by his wife. It was Saturday evening, and while I was bending over the bed, watching the baby that I had just hushed into slumber, Mr. Bingham came to the door and asked me to go with him to his study. Wondering what he meant by his strange request, I followed him, and when we had entered the study he closed the door, and in his blunt way remarked, "Lizzie, I am going to flog you." I was thunderstruck, and tried to think if I had been remiss in anything. I could not recollect of doing anything to deserve punishment, and with surprise exclaimed: "Whip me, Mr. Bingham! what for?"
"No matter," he replied, "I am going to whip you, so take down your dress this instant."
Recollect, I was eighteen years of age, was a woman fully developed, and yet this man coolly bade me take down my dress. I drew myself up proudly, firmly, and said, "No, Mr. Bingham, I shall not take down my dress before you. Moreover, you shall not whip me unless you prove the stronger."
My words seemed to exasperate him. He seized a rope, caught me roughly, and tried to tie me. I resisted with all my strength, but he was the stronger of the two, and after a hard struggle succeeded in binding my hands and tearing my dress from my back. Then he picked up a rawhide, and began to ply it freely over my shoulders. With steady hand and practised eye, he would raise the instrument of torture, nerve himself for a blow, and with a fearful force the rawhide descended upon the quivering flesh. It cut the skin, raised great welts, and the warm blood trickled down my back. Oh God! I can feel the torture now - the terrible, excruciating agony of those moments. I did not scream; I was too proud to let my tormentor know what I was suffering. I closed my lips firmly, that not even a groan might escape from them, and I stood like a statue while the keen lash cut deep into my flesh. As soon as I was released, stunned with pain, bruised and bleeding . . . I exclaimed "Master, what I done that I should be punished so severely?"
I would not put off thus. "What have I done? I will know why I have been flogged."
I saw his cheeks flush with anger, but I did not move. Without an explanation, he seized a chair, struck me, and felled me to the floor. I rose, bewildered, almost dead with pain, crept to my room, dressed my bruised arms and back as best I could and then lay down, but not to sleep. No, I could not sleep, for I was suffering mental as well as bodily torture. My spirit rebelled against the unjustness that had been inflicted upon me, and though I tried to smother my anger and to forgive those who had been so cruel to me, it was impoossible. The next morning I was more calm, and I believe that I could then have forgiven everything for the sake of one kind word. But the kind word was never proffered, and it may be possible, that I grew somewhat wayward and sullen. Though I had faults, I know now, as I felt then, harshness was the poorest inducement for the correction of them. It seems that (the pastor) had pledged himself to the Mrs. to subdue what he called "my stubborn pride." On Friday following the Saturday on which I was so savagely beaten, I was again directed to come to the study. On entering the room I found him prepared with a new rope and a new cowhide. I told him that I was ready to die, but that he could not conquer me. In struggling with him I bit his finger severely, when he seized a heavy stick and beat me with it in a shameful manner. The following Thursday, again he tried to conquer me, but in vain. We struggled, and he struck me many savage blows. As I stood bleeding before him, nearly exhausted with his efforts, he burst into tears, and declared that it would be a sin to beat me any more. My suffering at last subdued his hard heart; he asked my forgiveness, and afterwards was an altered man. He who preached the love of Heaven, who glorified the precepts and examples of Christ, who expounded the Holy Scriptures Sabbath after Sabbath from the pulpit refused to whip me any more."
Miss Tarter, keep your pride in being a female. Stay strong in desiring to follow the Word of God. I pray, however, that you will one day see, as did Miss Keckley, that it is not a sin to refuse to submit to the authority of a man - or even a pastor, or even a Seminary President, or even a boss.
You, Miss Tarter, are equal to them in God-given human authority.
In His Grace,